Anderson County students take on archery for the body and mind

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CLINTON (WATE) – Anderson County elementary and middle school students are trying their hand at the ancient art of archery. It’s one of the earliest forms of hunting, and archery has developed into a sport enjoyed around the world.

Archery is once again being taught in schools all over the country, thanks to the National Archery in Schools Program.

The elementary and middle school students in Anderson County are practicing archery for physical fitness and other benefits.

Dutch Valley Elementary School students practice in their school gym. It takes concentration, the strength to pull back a bow, take aim, and follow through with a direct hit, all of which they made look easy.

Ten-year-old Christa Jones is in fifth grade at Dutch Valley. “It’s a fun sport, and everybody really likes it,” she said.

Her classmate, Adam Nolan, added, “It’s finally a sport where you get to shoot something at a target.” When asked about his skill, he said, “I’m decent.”

Anderson County Schools is embracing archery district-wide, and the students seem thrilled.

“They’re all on a level playing field, and that’s new for a lot of them. So they get to experience that success, and they get to feel something good about themselves that sometimes they don’t get to experience anywhere else,” said PE coach Marcia Wade.

She says she’s seen an improvement in her students’ skill, physical fitness and confidence. “A lot of them start out and they don’t have the upper body strength to pull the bow back. What I’ve seen is that over time, they’ve developed that and gotten better.”

It’s not just physical. What they’re learning in target practice can also help them hit the mark in the classroom.

“Like you have angles on the bows that you need to know how to hit the yellow,” explained Nolan. “You’ve got to angle it just right to hit it where you want it.”

The emphasis is on safety first, but math, critical thinking, history, confidence and character building are all part of the program. Nolan says it just takes, “dedication and pride in your work and being able to concentrate.”

Jones says it’s not as hard as it looks. “It’s easy as long as you have patience in yourself and confidence.”

We found Clinton Middle School students target practicing in a safe spot outdoors. Even though the Olympic-style target shooting is an indoor sport, sometimes shared gym time makes it tough. Still, they don’t miss a beat.

Coaches say anyone one, regardless of age, size or physical ability can be successful in archery.

So I decided to give it a try. After a few tips from the coach, half a dozen attempts and only two arrows in the target, I decided to leave it to the archery experts, the kids.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency oversees the archery program in the state. They train and certify coaches to teach it and offer grants to help offset the $3,000 equipment costs.

Archery is being taught in more than 170 Tennessee schools. Anderson County just held a local tournament, and students will compete at the state level in April.

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